Archives for posts with tag: Enterprise 2.0


Image: Courtesy of Coralie Bickford-Smith

I took this journey of 13 blog posts to better define the model of Human Business Design. It was necessary to walk through the ideas of systemic thinking, introduce various systems, introduce the idea of interactive management, planning for the apocalypse, pie in the sky models, gap and assets, how to develop a community enterprise based on market principles, design a multidimensional organization, stay away from quick fixes and develop leadership for organizational evolution.

The model of Human Business Design is based on above foundation and rooted in the belief that all human interactions inside and outside of your organization matter now. They way human beings are motivated to connect and realize value has fundamentally changed. We’re seeing a fundamental reset in the nature of work due to drastic changes all of us are experiencing in how people communicate, coordinate and collaborate. And the Enterprise 2.0 “movement” tries to capture this changed behavior by applying Web 2.0 principles to the “command-and-control” needs of the enterprise. In addition, we see a mere obsession with tools for tools sake without much understanding of the socio-business context. The old problem of throwing software solutions at organizational problems is just being re-invented in the social networking arena.

Instead, we need to focus our attention on the shifting nature of work itself and how enterprises need to evolve in a rapidly changing world, Organizations need to dig deeper, define new principles around which work itself can be reworked. Forward thinking companies will develop their own constitution, a bill of rights and a social contract for all stakeholders to have a common purpose everybody involved can rally around. In short: enterprises need to socialize their business.

Technology is the critical enable to implement Human Business Design within your organization but technology is not a sufficient agent for change. We have to focus our work on humans, the limitations of extrinsic motivators (external reward or punishment) and the need for intrinsic motivators (finding meaning in work):

– Developing a foundation of trust
– Motivating and educating the stakeholders to become more active participants
– Providing access to stakeholder knowledge and skills
– Facilitating individual freedom and control
– Encouraging emotional/aspirational co-creativity and participation.

    Successful evolution of the organization to a Human Business Design Enterprise requires them to find the appropriate locus of learning, between both market and non-market sources of ideas and knowledge. Most established firms are still trying to access these autonomous idea pools using industrial age logic and rational economic arguments, and, in most cases, tired and outdated marketing efforts where the emphasis is on surface-level tinkering of the customer engagement model, not a complete realignment and reorientation.

    Enterprises have to understand that each business, with money and investment in structures, is no more than its people within and its people outside (all stakeholders). Enterprises need to rely more on people and bridge their left-brain thinking demands with the desires of people to focus more on their right-brain capabilities.

    More than 10 years ago, the Cluetrain Manifesto exclaimed “Business is fundamentally human”. We need to stop treating stakeholders as “resources” and regard each stakeholders as clients with their own interests, desires and drivers.

    If you want to learn more about Human Business Design and how we can help you implementing these principles into your organization, feel free to contact me at

    And, all previous installments for this series, can be found here:

    Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12

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    The World Cup is upon us and as a lifelong soccer fan and player, I reflected on a few insights that the soccer game taught me that can be applied to small and large businesses.

    1. Embrace and live your culture

    I started playing soccer when I was 5. We practiced twice a week and played each Saturday. Raised in Germany, our practice consisted of 90 minutes running and 30 minute playing time. Fairly insane when you think about it: forcing 5-year-olds to run for 90 minutes through the forest or doing laps after laps. But that’s the German culture for you. We were no masters on the ball but my team could outrun anyone. We won 90% of our games in the last 10 minutes because we never tired. (I hope there’s more balance in today’s practices in Germany, though)

    Each country has a specific soccer culture: the playfulness of Brazil, the physical intimidation of England, the defensive discipline of Italy, the exuberance of African teams. While you need to embrace and live your culture to be successful, you shouldn’t fall in love with it and be always open to change. Brazil wasn’t a dominant force in the 70’s and 80’s because they focused too much on playfulness and not enough on execution. Once they added execution into the mix, matches and World Cup’s were won again.

    2.) Hire entrepreneurs

    Most soccer coaches last only for a few years. It’s a tough job to gather all your players from clubs all over the world, fight internal bureaucracies and deal with the press. Coaches, just like players, are superstars. They have to take huge risks in order to succeed and most of them fail. Just to rise on some other bench to try it again.

    Soccer is a team sport but individual decisions make or break a team. The collective approach to soccer will always fail. Both coach and player are entrepreneurs, and the more creativity they display, the more leeway they are given. Coach and players have two different tools of influence to impact the outcome of the game.

    The coach can create a cohesive, yet competitive culture that rewards creativity and innovation, build team spirit and nurture team culture. He has strategic tools at his hand (formations, substitutions, etc.) but his input won’t lead to innovation or moving the game to a new level.

    This is done by 22 feet of 11 individual players. Players innovate on a daily basis to get a small but significant competitive advantage. They need to surprise other players with new ways of dribbling, moving, passing and reacting. The coach is there to create the right environment for players to innovate. Daily. With every move.

    3.) Dramatic innovation is rare. Daily innovation a must.

    As a soccer aficionado, it’s very interesting to watch games from the past and compare them to today’s sport. The game was much slower, formations not as fluid as they are today and positions have been redefined over the years. But, what’s even more intriguing is that these changes take years to really come to life. Franz Beckenbauer perfected the position of “Libero”, the “sweeper” before the goal-keeper, freeing him from marking a direct opponent. (Rather revolutionary, if you think about it: Instead of marking a person, you’re defending a zone.) He played his first World Cup in 1966, not really filling the position of Libero yet. In 1970, he showed massive improvements on this new style of play but it took him until 1974, when he crowned his career with a World Cup win and a performance that showcased his evolution from support player to innovator.

    Innovation didn’t happen in one game. It happened over more than a decade. And influenced generations to come.

    4.) Don’t blame technology. Don’t worship technology. Just use it.

    Each time the World Cup comes around, there’s a lot of talk about the new ball. Some people fear it, some embrace it. Most players don’t care. The ball is just a tool they use to accomplish a task. Because it’s new, players will have to find the challenges/dead spots when handling or shooting it. Introducing a new ball right ahead of the biggest sporting event seems wrong. But it is a great way to determine the best playing team and the team that answered this challenge with a strong creative approach. There’s nothing to fear. And a lot to explore.

    5.) Play. Hard.

    I could write about the beauty of soccer, get all poetic and philosophical. But the real beauty of this sport is that’s it’s still a game. When players have a creative thought, they can implement this idea immediately. And fail. Or succeed. At the heart of American Football is strategy. Creativity is not rewarded. At the heart of soccer is creativity. (Based on a foundation of technical excellence, supreme conditioning and mental toughness.)

    Tomorrow the World Cup begins. A clean slate. For all we know, North Korea might win it this time. Or South Africa. History exists only in the books and in our heads. On the grass, there’s no history. Just opportunity. Possibilities. The best playing team will win the tournament.

    And, that’s the most important lesson soccer can teach business: Business is a game that reinvents itself each and every day. The basic rules remain the same, your team defines how to play with these rules creatively. As an executive, it’s your responsibility to assemble the best players, to lay down the rules and develop plans. At the end of the day, the players have to play to move your business. Let them play. And enjoy each moment of it.


    Image Courtesy of Fubiz

    I like people who forget about safe bets and stick their heads out, risking to have their heads chopped off. I like people who take risks. And I like people who go against the grain.

    And, that’s why I like Joseph Jaffe. I especially like to spar with him (We had a few of those exchanges.), hoping I could find more reasons reading his new book “Flip the funnel – How to use existing customers to gain new ones.

    Jaffe’s premise is that companies should reverse their marketing tactics and focus their efforts on customer retention by having the highest quality customer experience. (Reminded me of the Zeus Jones vision of Marketing as a Service.) By focusing on current customers and delighting them with superior service, companies can activate happy customers to become evangelists for the brand. Customer Service, often outsourced and seen as a necessary but unloved cost center, should be at the table with R&D, Marketing and Sales when strategic decisions are being made.

    These are not revolutionary thoughts for many of us but rebellious ideas for the majority of companies who are still considering their customer service as a cost center and hide behind the walls of phone trees aka customer avoidance centers. The book appeals less to people knee-deep into the evolving world of Social Marketing but it should be read by anyone starting to understand that we live in a new marketing reality with changed rules.

    A few additional thoughts:

    – Yes, we all love Zappos. But, we don’t need to hear about them anymore. Using Zappos as the banner child for customer service has been done by too many people too many times.

    – Some of the examples (Motrin, United, Obama, etc.) are tired and don’t really need to be repeated over and over again. However, Jaffe provides new case studies that I wasn’t aware of.

    – Best Buy: I don’t get the hype about Twelpforce and all these great initiatives that Best Buy is developing and implementing. My problem with all this is that Best Buy offers a horrendous store experience. I just purchased a Mac and the associate asked me at least 10 times if I didn’t want to sign up for their numerous extended warranties. I’m not the only one feeling bullied and Best Buy seems to push their employees extremely hard to make a certain quota. And the results of this bullying are even apparent in Jaffe’s book: While he writes pages lauding Best Buy’s social effort, on page 239 he shares a chart from Forrester Research ranking Customer Experience for major companies. All the tweeting and blogging of Best Buy didn’t make any difference; They are still ranked in the bottom quantile or better: the hall of shame.

    Social Marketing doesn’t pack a punch when it’s just used to market to people, when it’s basically masking severe organizational problems.

    Social Marketing can pack a Tyson punch when it’s used to transform companies. By focusing on effectiveness of your workforce and less on efficiency. By focusing more on human interactions and less on technology. By making stakeholder value a priority, not shareholder value.

    This has to be the focus of our industry in the years to come. It’s interesting to follow the evolution of Jaffe’s thinking: From post-mass media to Conversational Marketing and now the focus on Customer Service. I wonder if the next book will be about Human Business Design? Oh wait, that’s my book.

    My point: Everybody involved in Social Media understands that the challenge all of us are facing are institutionalized processes and structures. We experience these challenges each and every day when evangelizing new ways to communicate within and outside of your brand. That’s why people talk about E2.0 and Social Business Design. Jaffe’s book is a good start and should be considered by anyone interested in transforming companies.

    However, all of us need to dig much, much deeper. If you thought convincing companies to tweet or blog was hard, don’t bother trying to transform a business. The former is a tiny sandhill, the latter a Mount Everest. Let’s start climbing.


    The B2B playbook is well known: B2B don’t focus on selling specific products, they are mostly focused on listening to customers and meeting their needs. Let’s say you are selling Cloud Computing. You have to identify first why a customer would like to switch: Lower computer and/or software costs, improved performance, improved document format compatibility, unlimited capacity, increased data reliability. In addition, sales people need to identify why customers might be hesitant to make the switch: Reliability, specific location of data is unknown, personal identifiable information can be distorted and a switch might disrupt the organization for a specific time. These insights allow you to organize your enterprise and sales organization based on customer needs, fostering long-term relationships by promoting whichever of the company’s products the customers values most at this moment in time.

    Compare this customer focus to the current B2C landscape: Most companies still use the top-down method to develop products: Develop a new product based on (often) flawed customer research, such as focus groups or surveys. Hand the new product over to the marketing department which identifies segments to target, sets the price and promotions and develops the communication plan. The whole organization is set up to push products out, transact as much as possible. A short-term strategy that is showing decline in performance due to the need of consumers to develop relationships with brands.

    Instead, brand have to focus on building lifetime value by humanizing the brand-people relationship and create a culture (followed by structure) to execute this new strategy.

    One of the major changes in human relationship organizations is the elimination of the CMO position and transferring all responsibilities to the Chief Customer Officer. Forrester’s briefing titled “Customer Experience thrives with executive leadership” found that “firms with these leaders view customer experience as more important, have more enterprisewide customer experience efforts, report having fewer obstacles, do more primary customer research, and score better in all three areas of Experience-Based Differentiation.” Executive stewardship is imperative to implement the next steps:

    • Move CRM out of IT and into the customer department.
    • Use market research throughout the organization to improve customer lifetime value. As an example, R&D needs to work directly with people to develop products that answer emerging needs.
    • Sales and Marketing should be merged into one division, reporting to the new Customer Division. Sales needs to step up and help marketing develop communications because they are closer to the ground and understand what consumers desire.
    • Let your best sales people (your greatest fans) in and collaborate with them throughout the product development process.
    • Suppliers and other stakeholders should not deal primarily with procurement, they are customers as well and should be treated as that.
    • Develop new metrics that focus less on short-term goals and more on customer profitability and lifetime value. Extend these new metrics to financial reporting, helping the markets to understand that stock prices should reflect this new model. Focus on market share should be replaced by focus on customer equity value.

    Transforming an organization to focus more on customers is a challenging task. However, continuing on the current path is not an option. Unless brands consider extinction an option.

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    This is my daughter. Look at her. There’s this aura of infinite possibilities – she’s ready to take on the world. Nothing will stand in her way to explore this world that’s hers. We all used to be like that. We all had this fire in our eyes. Each morning we couldn’t wait to get out of bed, ready to make this world our world. We were curious. Eager. Had so many questions. Tried things out. Fell down. Tried them again.

    And then life happened to us. Or better, institutions stood in our way. Pre-school. Kindergarden. Norms. Criticism. Homework. Schedules. School. Cruel teachers. Critical teachers. Grades. Norms. The system integrated us. We integrated the system into our lives. Into our thinking. And being. We graduated. When we were lucky, we traveled for a while. Found that joyful life experience again. But now it was time to join the workforce. To fit in. To accept mediocrity. Suddenly, it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. Weekends and vacations are the only remaining highlights. We are slowly killing off everything that made us happy and curious in the first place.

    Hold on, we just got a second chance.

    The Great Recession is the biggest opportunity we will encounter in our lives. The Great Recession equals major hardship for many people but it also marks the end of the corporate era. If you’re corporate drone, your job will be eliminated very soon. If you try to fit in to make it in this world, you will struggle for the rest of your life. In order to succeed, you have to become an artist.

    That’s the premise of Seth Godin’s newest book “Linchpin – Are you indispensable?” We have to become more human, creative and generous to be seen as unique and irreplaceable. And, most importantly, we have to ship. Meaning, we have to produce. Not spending hours on email trafficking, Twitter scanning, blog commenting. No, shipping. Producing. Doing. We can either give in to the lizard brain, the little part of your brain that is concerned with survival and is the reason for your procrastination and all your irrational fears. Or we can create our own destiny. Our own reality. And, at the same time, change the world.

    Seth Godin’s Linchpin might be the most important book you’ve read in a long time. Hopefully, it will change you and your thinking. We’ve been working with major Fortune 100 corporations for years, even decades. We understand how tough it is to implement cultural change. But, it’s necessary. Actually, it’s imperative. Would you rather help your company change or see it vanish?

    Seth Godin’s Linchpin and Hugh McLeod’s Evil plans (he illustrated Linchpin because he’s one) will give you the motivation and desire to change the world. We started our company with the goal to help transform businesses and change the way we work and live. Seth Godin distilled our thoughts in a neat and exciting package. Now it’s your turn to take the ball and change the world. We hope you’re ready.


    Image courtesy of 24 Media

    Since corporations were formed, businesses always relied on analytical decision-making. Large corporations were able to create their own ecosystem, shaping their world at will. In this world, being smart was enough. But these walled garden are gone. And the world outside doesn’t follow the rules the corporations used to force on us. This created a severe alienation between people and companies/institution. And leaves many corporations craving for the old world order and fearing the future.

    There’s nothing to fear. Actually, there’s a lot to look forward to. To an era where emotional skills will be paired with analytical skills. New MBAs already learn to focus more on “self-awareness and the capacity for introspection and empathy.” I would argue, empathy will be the key differentiator for successful institutions. And lack thereof their downfall.

    Empathy will provide you with insightful knowledge of the world outside of your walled garden. Spock never was able to get the full ‘human experience’, just like many managers who are trapped by their own analytical skills. Empathy allows you to experience the world and analyze data outside of your own life experience. It helps you to develop innovative strategic and tactical opportunities. That’s what real Enterprise 2.0 is about: focusing on the strengths of the right brain, understanding patterns, argue holistically and interpret emotions. When we have all the analytical technologies and skills as a foundation and layer right-brain capabilities on top of it to deliver real value. Suddenly things make sense. Empathy helps us to transform enterprises by our new-found ability to see the big picture and take collaboration to a new level.

    Empathy and collaboration are fellow partners. Both are closely linked because they require to focus less on self and more on the outside. People who have the ability to see world through someone else’s eyes are much more likely to share information with others. They understand how their work is linked to that of other people, understand the necessity to overcome of silos. Too many E2.0 experts base their opinion of collaboration on technologies and the obvious benefits for organizations.

    Real collaboration is not reactive. Real collaboration is pro-active. Focusing on the needs of others before they can express them.

    Not “I just got this information request, I should answer.” Instead, “I should share this information because it might benefit XY and her project.”

    Not “A customer complains, I need to resolve this situation.” Instead, “My customer needs are changing and I have to change my products/services to accommodate them.”

    We have to understand collaboration becomes more effective when it’s based on human interaction and relationships. When we have a comfort level with another person, see them as a human, not a resource, collaboration is an organic outcome. Technologies help us to organize and calibrate the collaboration efforts. Empathy helps us build trusting relationships and deliver ROI in the value chain. Empathy is critical for E2.0 organization to harvest the benefits of collaboration and co-creation.


    Frankly, I have problems coping with the constant information overload. I’m pretty sure that most of us have the same problem. Not only in 2009; this has been a primal, human problem. I’m convinced that this feeling of being overloaded, swamped, barely making it is the real engine behind human progress. But only if we approach this challenge in a constructive way.

    Since human beings started to communicate, the speed and enormity of societal changes have caused people to bitch and moan. The oldest known example is Plato in his “Pheadros”-Dialogue. He’s complaining about the invention of letters, claiming they will eliminate the necessity to memorize things. And this was 2,400 years ago.

    At the core of this discussion is cultural pessimism: Old men decked out in Snuggies sitting in front of a fireplace, agreeing that things used to be better. Well, not everything is bad now, at least I can enjoy my HD but all this busy stuff and social garbage is just a waste of time.

    This common rejection of cultural changes is understandable. Highly educated people believed for the longest time that we are able to control society around us. Besides some natural disasters, we have pretty much tamed nature and conquered its forces. However, we fight a constant battle against an institution we created centuries ago: Civilization. We still have a spear in our hand to fight dragons. It’s just a Dragons 99.0 fight against spears 101.0.

    In 2009, we feel that our spear is not the right weapon against the dragon anymore. I would argue, the belief of being able to control your social environment was always an illusion. Propped up by executives, politicians and corporations. And the loss of control is felt more dramatically in C-level suites because their power has diminished dramatically.

    One hint that control was always an illusion is the silly image that world knowledge is increasing at an unprecedented pace. There are stories that the world’s knowledge captured in books could reach the moon. Nice image, but we always had too much information to cope with. The library of Alexandria, the original Google, consisted of 500,000 papyrus scrolls. If you assume a length of 20 feet per scroll, the length of all scrolls would total 1,900 miles. Assuming a reading speed of 1 feet of scroll per 2 minutes and reading time of 12 hours daily, it would take one person around 75 years to read everything.

    Sure, the mountain of information has dramatically increased since Alexandria – its insurmountability was always a fact. That’s why we invented filter mechanisms. Until the end of the 20th century, this function was performed by the editors of mass media: A hierarchical structure making decisions in a non-transparent way to determine what the public should be interested in. Basically, editors decided how we should experience reality. A very powerful position, indeed. The editorial department as the gatekeeper has been challenged in the 21st century. Most people will say it’s a technological challenge. I would argue it’s a social challenge.

    Different rules apply to the virtual space of the digital realm. A few moments ago, editors decided what should be important us. Now, the web services play to the wisdom of crowds and let people decide what they are really interested in. The editorial edict of relevance is being supplemented  by the crowdsourced edict of “Do I find this interesting?” A new filter is challenging the power base of editorial departments. By utilizing the ancient tool of recommendations, the crowd decides what should be spread and what is not interesting enough to share. All Social Networks are based on the concept of “Look, I found/created something interesting.”

    This doesn’t mean editorial departments will disappear. Professional journalism is more important than ever, even though all publishing companies face the monetization challenge. It’s just a fact that journalists aren’t the only game in town anymore, their competition is anybody with a camera and/or laptop.

    The editorial department faces off against the crowd, not a machine. It’s a misconception to believe that Google’s algorithm decides what we should experience and read. Google understood from the beginning that algorithms alone won’t determine relevancy. Each and every individual has to make that determination – good technology helps us with that task. Google dominates the digital world because they were always the best in mimicking the way the human mind works. The holy grail of relevance is linking sites through human action. Google even fights a brave fight against automated machine relevance. Whole divisions are trying to ensure that human relevancy (defined by links created by humans) always trumps machine relevancy.

    The Internet has conquered the consciousness of the young generation. And in different ways than we ever imagined when we started our digital journey. I would argue that the consequences of the digital revolution are much more severe and revolutionary, as if Print, Telephone and TV were invented at the same time. I’ve heard teenagers ask their parents how human beings joined the Internet. Can you better describe the intimate relationship young adults have to the digital reality? The virtual world can’t be separated from our carbon existence. This is so profound that people change the way they live, work and love. Yes, even love can be rooted in digital. Ask the millions of people who fell in love and grieved for Princess Diana (without ever meeting her) if they were deeply affected by an almost virtual person.

    The predictable stories about the demise of our culture and consequences for our society completely dismisses the rise of written information, caused by the advent of digital and social technologies. Sure, some of them are grammatically challenged and need solid spell checks. But, think back 20 years: How many students wrote anything outside of their school and homework? Maybe a diary page. Nothing more. Compare this to the flood of written content just from the Millenials alone. A step in the right direction.

    What remains is the nagging feeling that the machine is starting to control us. So, let’s step down from a throne of arrogance and level with the older generation. Fact is, the digital world is still too complicated and complex. The younger generation might not feel that way because their socialization process occurred during the advent of digital technologies. Technological progress is only a positive force for society when the majority feels positive about it. And this is mostly a question of coping with overload. The older people are the more pronounced is their fear not to be relevant anymore. We need to deal with this through support systems and the power of empathy.

    This overload and fear of not being relevant anymore plays out each and every day in offices, cubicles and homes throughout the world. Staring at the screen, anxiety sets in and the fear that the digital life might pass you by. We need to explain to non-native digital nomads why we put weird images on our Social Network pages while we expect that our future employers don’t sniff around our private networks to find incriminating content. Would a respectable corporation ever sift through the garbage of a prospective employee even though the garbage container is easily accessible for anyone? We should explain that multi-tasking is just a symptom of the scattering media landscape – the generation before us left the TV for hours while reading books and newspapers. Let’s explain to them the difference of publishing your own data and institutional regulations as the difference between being ‘locking myself in the bathroom’ and ‘being locked in the bathroom’. It’s about freedom of choice, we control our own data.

    Let’s invite them to participate in the digital lifestyle. What an amazing opportunity: It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, ugly or beautiful, if you want to talk about Canadian glaciers or Serbian poetry of the 17th century. Showcase the steep advances or society made with the digital revolution – how lonely was a 16-year old gay person living in a rural village 20 years ago? What an amazing change and opportunity to be able to connect with like-minded people, escaping the frightening thought to be different.

    Businesses need to implement systems to play to the strengths of the young and the weaknesses of the old. Just adding another technology layer to the mix will increase the divide. Instead, we need to implement systems that enhance the real-time experience of digital natives and help filter out the noise for the older generation to connect with signals.

    And, as always, we still need to pay a price for all these positive developments: Media elites are not that elite anymore. Transparency and speed crushed their belief in being able to control the environment. Their greatest problem with the young generation is that they don’t belong to it anymore.